NOTE: Employers in states with state-run safety and health plans should check with their state agency. Their state may enforce standards that, while "as effective as federal standards," may not be identical to the federal requirements.
What are the hazards of electricity in the workplace?
Frayed electrical cords
Electricity can result in:
Burns (electrical or thermal contact),
Indirectly, injury from a fall, from cuts, or from broken bones.
How does electric shock occur?
Electric shock occurs when the body becomes a part of an electric circuit. The electrical current must enter the body at one point and leave at another.
Electric shock normally occurs in 1 of 3 ways. Individuals - while in contact with the ground - must come in contact with:
Both wires of the electric circuit, or
One wire of an energized circuit and the ground, or
A metallic part that has become "hot" by contact with an energized conductor
Electrical accidents appear to be caused by a combination of 3 possible factors:
Unsafe equipment and/or installation,
Workplaces made unsafe by the environment, and
Unsafe work practices.
In poultry processing facilities, the existence of wet environments greatly increases the risk of electrical accidents because water reduces the resistance of human skin to the passage of electricity. View examples.
OSHA's electrical standards help reduce the potential for death or serious injury by specifying safety aspects in the design and use of electrical equipment and systems. The standards cover only those parts of any electrical system that an employee would normally use or contact.
De-energizing electrical equipment before inspecting or making repairs.
Using appropriate protective equipment.
Using electric tools that are in good repair.
Using good judgment when working near energized lines.
How can workers be protected from the hazards of electricity?
The basic means of protection include:
Insulation - covering live parts with high-resistance material such as rubber or plastic. (Always check the insulation on power cords before connecting to a power source to be sure there are no exposed wires. Flexible cords, such as extension cords, are particularly likely to be damaged.) View example.
Electrical protective devices – fuses, circuit breakers, and GFCIs. [The GFCI is intended to protect employees by interrupting the current quickly enough to prevent electrocution. If a GFCI detects a current difference (going to versus coming from electrical equipment) greater than 6 amperes, it will shut off electric power within 1/40 of a second.] View examples
All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.
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